Khabib Nurmagomedov may be best known for his title-run and subsequent defense of that title against Conor McGregor, but his most brutal display was one that came far sooner in his UFC career.
There are certain fights that teeter on the edge of being difficult to watch and at this point, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of Khabib’s fights fall within the bracket.
Whether it was his mauling of Edson Barboza, his relentless beatdown of Michael Johnson, or his domination of Conor McGregor, each of the Dagestani’s signature wins displays a different side to his unique brand of clinical ruthlessness.
One performance that truly does stand out as a masterclass of what this man is capable of is his UFC 160 meeting with Abel Trujillo.
Trujillo, at the time, was a solid fringe competitor at 155lbs. In his ten UFC bouts, he held a record of (6-4, 1 NC) and when you consider that his only blemishes came against James Vick, John Makdessi, Tony Ferguson, and Khabib, you can see that he was at least a reputable challenge within the lightweight ranks.
None of that seemed to bother Nurmagomedov, however, and despite a relatively slow start, he ended up putting a grappling clinic on the quick-handed American.
He broke down his willpower one takedown at a time until the visibly-dazzled Trujillo could do nothing but wave his arms in frustration as the future champ slammed him to the ground a record 21 times over the scheduled three rounds.
This fight displayed the Russian’s ruthless side and in watching the bout again, you can almost detect a twisted playfulness in the way in which Nurmagomedov repeatedly grounded his helpless opponent, especially in the later stages of each round, where Khabib’s showmanship resulted in some truly fantastic throws.
With The Eagle set to return to the UFC octagon to face Dustin Poirier in the second defense of his lightweight crown, relive the fight that in many ways could still be the most dominant victory of his career to date.
In the time since this defeat, Trujillo, 35, has twice pleaded guilty to domestic abuse and in July of 2019, he was charged with the sexual exploitation of a child.